K-von ’03 parlays business degree into comedy career
Nevada Silver & Blue Senior Editor Melanie Robbins had the opportunity
to ask comedian K-von a few pertinent questions recently after a performance
at the Grand Sierra Resort where he was the featured act for Jamie Kennedy.
K-von (his real name), a native Nevadan and 2003 marketing and management
alumnus, currently lives in Beverly Hills. He starred in the horror flick
spoof The Gingerdead Man 2, and has appeared many times on television,
including Showtime's “Comics w/out Borders” with Russell Peters,
the Style Network, and Good Morning America to name a few. He is a regular
at Hollywood’s “Laugh Factory”
and tours colleges and clubs across the country.
With a Persian father and an American mother, K-von has a good-natured brand of multi-cultural humor— and he’s not afraid to mock anyone, of any ethnicity, but he takes special aim at his Middle Eastern brethren. Constantly coming up with new material, he often draws from his childhood in Las Vegas, as well as his experiences as a college student at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Nevada Silver & Blue: What got you interested in comedy, and what made you decide to pursue it?
K-von: My father worked at the Harrah’s casino and always had plenty
of jokes to tell. Some of them may not have been appropriate for a 7-year-old
to overhear, but I always thought it was great that he could make people
laugh with a quick story and a surprise punch line. I wanted to be able
to do that.
In Nevada, there is not much opportunity for beginners to do standup, so I vowed to tackle it after I graduated. While in college, I would write jokes in the back of my notebook. Looking back, I realize the more boring the class the more jokes there were. In fact I tell my family to this day that I was low on material and that’s why I had to take accounting twice.
What’s it like being a comedian?
It’s a total roller coaster ride. Maintaining a daytime job, preparing for shows at night, impressing club owners, and building a fan base keeps you very busy. For the first few years a comic is just trying to figure out who they are on stage, come up with material that people enjoy, and basically survive for the amount of time you are supposed to be up there. If you can get past the ups and downs in the beginning, it becomes a lot more rewarding. We have a lot of fun on the road and after shows, but the comics I’ve been associated with that I see really excelling treat comedy more like a business than a 24/7 party.
How did your experiences at the University help shape your future
career path, or help you become successful?
Attending Nevada has helped me in more ways than one. From a business standpoint, I actually use my marketing degree every single day and it has given me quite an advantage. From an experience perspective, the University allowed for a well balanced campus life. I find when I share my school stories while on stage I’m able to relate to audiences all over the United States. Topics like being out of the house for the first time, joining a fraternity, living in the dorms, dating, and gaining weight from eating in the cafeteria are a gold mine for comedy material and I’m able to speak to it from experience.
Were there certain professors who helped you the most?
Dean of the College of Business Mike Reed, the Nevada Small Business Development Center’s Rod Jorgensen, and Professor of Managerial Sciences Howard Olsen were a few of my biggest influences while in school. They pushed me, made me work hard, and allowed me to confidently prepare to start my own business one day.
What are your favorite memories from your days at the University?
Partying at the Beer Barrel, taking skiing as a class (I still can’t believe it), pledging the fraternity, heading to Lake Tahoe on a whim, and late night study sessions in our pajamas to name a few. One memory in particular comes to mind. Like most college kids I was totally broke while in school. After all, my class missed the Millennium Scholarship by one year. So one year during finals week, I went to Krispy Kreme and bought five dozen donuts. I set them on my study table in the library with a sign that said “$1 Donuts.” I made $48 a night for a week while studying. I should have received my business degree right then and there! That money helped pay for the next semester’s books… or a few trips to the Beer Barrel, I can’t remember which. Of course, there was a downside: I usually polished off plenty of donuts myself each night.
Which family members attended Nevada? (Even if they didn’t graduate, we count them as alums if they took six credits.)
Oh, now you tell me! I spent all those years at Nevada when I could have quit after first semester. My father, mother, brother, two uncles and four cousins went to the University of Nevada, Reno and we’re going to keep coming!
What are you up to now and what are your future goals?
Currently I’m performing all over the country with a handful of
the best comedians in the nation. One of my future goals is to bring a show
to Reno on a yearly basis called “K-von and Friends,” where
my Nevada fans know they are going to see top-of-the-line comics and have
a blast each time we’re in town. I will also be focusing on television
appearances and movie roles. After receiving the lead role in The Gingerdead
Man 2, I have been asked to continue auditioning for larger projects and
find making movies to be second best thing next to standup.
Finally, if anyone would like to get more information on shows, please sign up and view my calendar on www.K-vonComedy.com or www.myspace.com/KvonComedy.